Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Postcard mailed 101 years ago from Albany, Vermont

This scenic (and almost certainly generic) postcard featuring a dirt road was mailed almost exactly 101 years ago — on August 24, 1915 — from Albany, Vermont.1

Albany has always been a small town. It peaked in population around 1860, with 1,200 residents. It had 920 souls in the 1910 census and 941 souls in the 2010 census. The area is described in a straightforward fashion on Wikipedia:
"The town is hilly and uneven. The highest point in town is in the northwestern part of the township, which is cut off from the main chain of the Green Mountains by a brook. Lord's Creek flows north through the eastern part of the township, having several tributaries. There are other minor streams in town. There are also several ponds, the principal of which are Great Hosmer, Hartwell, Page, Heart, and Duck ponds."
The town's original name was Lutterloh and its first road was Bayley-Hazen military road, built in 1779, according to the Orleans Country Historical Society, which also notes a "large amount of smuggling in the area around 1813."

The postcard was mailed to Mrs. Mary E. Clark of Greenville, Maine (about 145 miles to the northeast, as the crow flies), and has the following message:
My dear Mrs. Clark
Your letter came to me about a month ago and I am patiently waiting waiting for some definite date regarding the family of your mother V [?] grandfather — and can you tell me any thing of Moses, (a brother of Stephen) who died in Me [Maine]. Have written Mr. Cummings.
Delia (Darling) Honey
So, they were working on some genealogy, it seems. There was definitely a Delia Darling Honey of Albany, Vermont. According to this website, she died on April 17, 1949, at the age of 101. This is just one tiny piece of all the hard work she did over the decades on her family history.

1. On the afternoon that this card was postmarked, the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the Chicago Cubs, 5-1, in front of 5,000 fans at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. Bob Fisher had a home run and three RBIs for the Cubs, Possum Whited had two hits for the Phillies, and Philadelphia pinch-hitter Bud Weiser made an out, dropping his season average to .131. (He finished the year with a surge that brought his average to .141.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

What on Earth does this have to do with soap?

I came across this vintage advertising trade card on eBay last week, and it's an image that's so bizarre that I need to share it here. For therapy, perhaps.

The trade card is touting some varieties of soap produced by an obscure company called Page, Derr & Co. of Creston, Iowa. The illustration, presumably by Richmond & Co. of Buffalo, New York, features a person who has some sort of fruit or vegetable in the place of his head.

To what end, I do not know.

Is it supposed to be an eggplant? A plum? Is it smoking?

Why is it smoking?

There's a lot that's disturbing about this imagine, which is partly silly but also borderline nightmare fuel. It's probably best that you don't stare at it too long.

1952 U.S. stamp honoring 4-H clubs

This nifty green 3-cent stamp, which honors 4-H youth clubs, was issued 64 years ago, when three pennies was all you needed to mail a one-ounce, first-class letter.

Part of the reason I wanted to write about this particular stamp is our family's experience with this organization. We are very fortunate, especially as homeschoolers, to have 4-H as a part of our lives here in York County, Pennsylvania. Sarah has been involved in two clubs (Wildlife Watchers, Alpaca Club) for years and has also taken part in some outstanding educational field trips and overnight programs. If you have kids and a 4-H program in your neck of the woods, I heartily recommend that you check it out.

As for this stamp, the Mystic Stamp Company tells us that U.S. #1005 was issued on January 15, 1952. And the National 4-H History Preservation Program tells us that the stamp was designed by C.R. Chickering and engraved by M.D. Fenton.

The Preservation Program has a boatload of great information about this stamp's history, so you should check it out. Here are a few more of their notes:

  • The stamp was officially released in Springfield, Ohio, which was considered to be a federal validation of the once-debated claim that A.B. Graham launched the first of the youth programs in that area in 1902.
  • 4-H members in the Springfield area were excused from school on the day the stamp was released, so that they could attend festivities that included music and speeches. Graham himself was present, and he talked about raising pigs as a youth.
  • More than 400,000 pieces of mail bearing the new 4-H stamp received first-day cancellations. The biggest single mailer was the Stran-Steel Division, Great Lakes Steel Corp., with over 16,000 envelopes addressed to farm leaders throughout the country.

Gratuitous photo of Sarah and
a 4-H alpaca named Coal

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Happy 130th birthday,
Ruth Manning-Sanders

Ruth Manning-Sanders wrote novels and poetry, too.

On this date 130 years ago — August 21, 1886 — Ruth Vernon Manning was born to John Edmondson Manning and Emma Manning (nee Brock) in Swansea, Wales. That baby grew up to become Ruth Manning-Sanders, a collector and teller of timeless fairy tales whose work brought joy and creative inspiration to many young people during the second half of the 20th century.

(That's right. Papergreat has been around long enough to publish two Manning-Sanders birthday posts, five years apart. Here's the 2011 post.)

To mark the occasion, this time around the sun, here are some assorted tidbits from my ongoing (and stalled at times) research on her life and works. If I never get around to writing The Ultimate Piece of Scholarship on Ruth Manning-Sanders, perhaps these will prove useful to some future researcher who can finish the job.

1. It is my understanding that Manning-Sanders' daughter, Joan, submitted some of her mother's unpublished stories to an Australian publication called The School Magazine in the 1990s. I have no idea if any were published or specifically when that might have been.

2. I had some correspondence last fall and winter with John Floyd (Manning-Sanders' grandson) and his wonderful wife, Pat, who live in Cornwall. They generously sent me photocopies of some pages from a 2011 publication titled A Forgotten Prodigy: Joan Manning-Sanders (1913-2002) and her Circle. It was written by John Floyd and Owen Baker.

The book is, of course, primarily about Joan and her time as an artist. (You can learn more about her and the 2011 book from Helen Hoyle at Women Artists in Cornwall, Western Morning News and The Cornishman.)

But there is also a good deal of excellent (and new to me) information about Ruth and her husband, George. And photos! This makes the third photo of the photographically elusive Ruth Manning-Sanders published on Papergreat.

In A Forgotten Prodigy, we learn that, following their 1911 marriage and last-name hyphenation, Ruth and George Manning-Sanders "embarked on a nomadic adventure, travelling in a horse drawn caravan and taking a fashionable interest in gypsy and circus life. They lived in the caravan as a two year adventure until the arrival of their daughter Joan."

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the family was based in Sennen, in extreme western Cornwall. They were living the "artistic life," socializing regularly with other writers and painters. It was during this time that Manning-Sanders, in a prolific period of output, published Hucca's Moor. According to A Forgotten Prodigy, "this too was set in Cornwall and contains some of her best writing about the area."

Caravans and circuses continued to hold a great interest for Ruth Manning-Sanders, according to this passage from the book:
"Ever since her early caravanning days Ruth had been a lover of horses and of the romance of life on the road. During the inter-war years it had become fashionable for artists and writers to seek to record circus and gypsy life. ... Ruth's papers contain correspondence with friends in the circus world spanning the years 1932-1952 and thus inspired, she was to write several children's books Elephant: The Romance of Laura (1938), Luke's Circus (1939), Mr. Portal's Little Lions (1952), The Golden Ball: A Novel of the Circus (1954) and Circus Boy (1960)."

I will delve more into A Forgotten Prodigy in a future post.

3. Samantha Morrish of the University of Reading has published an excellent short biography of Ruth Manning-Sanders on the Modernist Archives Publishing Project. Morrish's work has a bibliography that cites some sources I have not come across before.

4. Manning-Sanders published numerous novels before entering the unofficial second act of her writing career and focusing primarily on folklore and fairy tales. But she always had the world of piskies and magic near and dear to her heart, as evidenced in her early writing. Here are just a few examples from her novels:

  • From The Twelve Saints: "The bulge of the bed knob made her face more elf-like than usual, though there was always something elf-like about Elizabeth."
  • From Adventure May Be Anywhere, a book she dedicated to her children, Joan and David: "They also told us that it was the identical castle where Jack killed the giant." (That's just one of many such references in this fairy-tale-infused novel for children.)
  • The first sentence of The Growing Trees: "Margaret, who, with her long strands of bleached hair, and her deep-set blue eyes, reminded James of the picture of Rapunzel in the colored woodcuts in his big old edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales."
  • Two examples from Mystery at Penmarth, which shares characters with Adventure May Be Anywhere: "There was a kind of elfish look about him, if you know what I mean." and "[E]very hill had a giant living on it once, and they used to play a game called bob-buttons, with rocks for ammunition." This book also features horses named Cormoran, Merlyn, Skillywidden, Keri, Pennalunna and Tregeagle.

Hungry for more? Click on (or, using your magical internet device, touch your finger to) the Ruth Manning-Sanders label at the bottom of this post to see the 40+ Papergreat posts that mention her. There's lots of great stuff to dig into.

Birthday tweets for Manning-Sanders
(and her fairy-tale co-conspirators)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Goodreads & #FridayReads & the awesomeness of sharing book picks

Who says people don't read books any more?

I was a witness (and minor participant) in a pretty awesome event on Thursday night. A friend posted on Facebook that she had just finished reading the entirety of the Harry Potter series and was seeking recommendations for other books to read. They could be anything at all — fiction, non-fiction, modern, classics, whatever. She was just looking for fresh suggestions.

Over the course of about three hours, she received a jaw-dropping response — well over 100 books and series. It seems like everyone is reading these days. And that's pretty cool.

I compiled the entire list of suggestions, and I want to leave it here for posterity. It could, in turn, inspire others to seek out books they might not otherwise have known about. (I added numerous books to my Goodreads "To Read" list while compiling this.)

  • We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen
  • The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
  • Light Boxes by Shane Jones
  • The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District by James Rebanks
  • The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino
  • Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • Any science-fiction by Clifford D. Simak
  • Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes
  • Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation by Edward Humes
  • Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
  • Candyfreak by Steve Almond
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  • The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • A Man Call Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Magicians (The Magicians #1) by Lev Grossman
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Dandelion Wine (Green Town #1) by Ray Bradbury
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town #2) by Ray Bradbury
  • Farewell Summer (Green Town #3) by Ray Bradbury
  • Summer Morning, Summer Night (Green Town #4) by Ray Bradbury
  • The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga #1) by Mary Stewart
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  • Anything by David Sedaris
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
  • Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Anything by Ross King (including Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling and Leonardo and the Last Supper)
  • There are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz
  • The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz
  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
  • Going Solo by Roald Dahl
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
  • Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
  • Liar's Poker by Micahel Lewis
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen
  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
  • Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
  • Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
  • The Son by Philipp Meyer
  • The Outlander Series (1-7) by Diana Gabaldon
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
  • Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof
  • The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu
  • The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All by Gregory Bassham
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt #1) by Edmund Morris
  • Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture by Matt Goulding
  • On the Rez by Ian Frazier
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
  • Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
  • Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1) by Douglas Adams
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
  • Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest
  • Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
  • The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1) by Ben H. Winters
  • Countdown City (The Last Policeman #2) by Ben H. Winters
  • World of Trouble (The Last Policeman #3) by Ben H. Winters
  • The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David E. Hoffman
  • Seymour Hersh: Scoop Artist by Robert Miraldi

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

She was proud of her father,
the bookseller

This 1924 edition of A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony by Alice Turner Curtis1 has a loose and damaged binding and will rapidly loose what remaining value it has without some repairs or reinforcing.

It's another book that was in the possession of John Brake of Virginia2 in the 1970s, spent time in the inventory of a Pennsylvania bookseller and ended up in my possession via a bulk lot.

Before all of that, though, it had a family history.

At the bottom of the inside back cover, there's a small bookseller's label3 — just seven-eighths of an inch wide — for E.S. McCawley & Co. of Haverford, Pennsylvania. The label has been circled, with purple ink, and someone has written "My Father."

I discovered a little bit about Edmund S. McCawley from his March 1966 obituary in the Delaware County Daily Times. He had died at age 75 in Radnor Township. He was born in Philadelphia and lived for 40 years in Ithan (an early, unofficial name for a portion of Radnor Township). He was a president of the American Booksellers Association and chairman of its board of directors, and he was, of course, founder of the E.S. McCawley Co. bookstore.

For more, we turn to the inscriptions on the first page of A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony...

It took a bit, but I now know what all that handwriting says:

Mary Yorke McCawley
Ithan - Penna -

From - Dady.
Christmas 1926.

Heath McCawley

"Heath McCawley" is written in the same pen and handwriting as "My Father" on the inside back cover. So we can perhaps agree that Heath (a girl) is the one who wrote on these two pages, perhaps years after the original inscription.

Meanwhile, Mary Yorke McCawley, who was born in 1917, had a very full life. Nicknamed Yorkie, she was a hospital volunteer and a lifelong gardener who sailed on the SS Normandie and was married twice. She " delighted in presiding over large holiday gatherings for extended family and friends."

Mary died in March 2014 at age 96. One of her granddaughters wrote: "My grandmother spoke like Katharine Hepburn. She had secrets. She was born in 1917. I didn’t think she would ever die."

You can read all the memories and stories of Yorkie's life on her two obituary pages, which I have been quoting, at Legacy.com and a blog titled "Wednesday-Night" by Diana Thebaud Nicholson.

Mary's sister, now Heath McCawley Porter of Villanova, Pennsylvania, was still alive at the time of Mary's death 29 months ago. I cannot find an obituary for her, so it's possible that she's still alive.

I would love to track her down and give her this book, which she wrote in so many decades ago.

Stay tuned.

1. According to Goodreads: "Children's and young adult author Alice Turner Curtis was born in Sullivan, ME. She lived most of her life in Boston, MA. Alice Turner Curtis is the author of "The Little Maid" Series of books. Originally published by Penn, during the period from 1913 to 1937. Reprinted by Knopf in the 1940's and 1950's with illustrations by Sandra James. Some books were reprinted by Applewood in the 1990's with the original illustrations. One books containing two original stories was printed by Derrydale Books in 1991."
2. I haven't yet found a full biography of Brake, who once collected so many early 20th century books, but I did discover that he published The History of Greenville, Virginia: the Town, Its People, Their Relatives and Friends, Businesses and Organizations — a volume of more than 1,200 pages — in 1994. According to one source, it was limited to 300 copies.
3. For other Papergreat posts featuring bookseller labels, see the list at the bottom of this November 2015 post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Autumn Is Coming

The afternoons are still sweltering, but the end of the Dog Days of Summer is perhaps now within sight.

Soon it will be autumn, my favorite time of year. Kids are going back to school, fall fairs and festivals are on the horizon1, and I'll be able to sleep with the window open and let the crisp air in at night. Hay bales, hot chocolate and Halloween, too.

With that theme in mind, here's a Postcrossing card I received this week from Christoph, who lives in München, Germany. It's an aerial shot of the awe-inspiring Neuschwanstein Castle, shown just as the trees are starting to change color and autumn is starting to creep in at the edges.

While Neuschwanstein is the modern indulgence of an irresponsible king and by no means a historic fortress steeped to its foundations in European history, that doesn't take away from its beauty. It's a timeless wonder, in scale and setting, and it would be on my must-see list if I ever make it to Germany.

Right now, though, my "must-see" list consists of some fine autumn days, filled with scarecrows, spooks, apple cider, pumpkins and fine foliage. It's coming.

1. Here are my posts about the York Fair:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Delving into Forty Fort's history, via an Oliver Optic novel

As I continue a sort and partial purge of some old books, I came across a copy of The Young Lieutenant or The Adventures of An Army Officer by Oliver Optic (aka William Taylor Adams).1 Here is what I discovered on the inside front cover (shown above) and the first page:

1. The book was once part of the Forty Fort Presbyterian Church Library.

2. It was once housed at Red Door, located at 1516 Wyoming, in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania.2

3. Someone named Wilcox was part of the book's provenance at some point.

4. The book was given to George Perley on Christmas Day, 1910, "from Ma."

5. The book, like many others, ended up in possession of John Brake of Greenville, Virginia, in December 1976.

6. At some point, the book was for sale for $15.00.

7. Not noted on the pages are the facts that this Oliver Optic book was once part of the inventory of a Red Lion, Pennsylvania-based bookseller before being sold to me in a bulk lot as part of the dispersal of unwanted inventory. (Should I write that in, for the historical record and/or the next blogger?3)

* * *

So, Forty Fort is an small borough in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It was named for the fort that was built there during the time of the Revolutionary War and included, literally, 40 settlers from Connecticut. The fort no longer exists, but the borough is home to the Forty Fort Meetinghouse, which was constructed in 1807.

The Forty Fort Presbyterian Church was an outgrowth of the Meetinghouse, but I can't find any information online about when it was built. Perhaps if I attend next year's "Tour of Historic Greater Pittston," I can learn more.

The big mystery from this book, though, is the yellow RED DOOR sticker. Was it a business? A man who just happened to be named Red Door? There is a Red Door Construction, located in Kingston, which is less than two miles from Forty Fort.

Finally, through some additional diligence, I found my answer within the 2004 obituary of Eleanor Roberts Morgan:
"Mrs. Morgan was the owner of the Red Door Antique Shop on Wyoming Avenue in Forty Fort during the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s. She dealt in all aspects of the business, from fine china and furniture, jewelry and art, to first edition and historical books. After the flood of '72, she and her husband 'Phil,' 'Dake,' or 'Coach Morgan,' moved to Florida for 19 years of good dining, ocean swimming, beach shelling and their old loves, flea markets and friends."
And so there you have it. This might be one of the few remaining artifacts that can be directly linked, via its sticker, to the Red Door Antique Shop in Forty Fort. Thank you, Eleanor.

1. There is, annoyingly, no publication or copyright date on this book, which was published by A.L. Burt Company of New York.
2. I can't say "Forty Fort" without thinking of Ossie Davis' character named Portifoy from that awesome Night Gallery episode with Roddy McDowall.
3. Okay. Done.